Despite cannabis decriminalization throughout the state in 2013, Rhode Island police issued about 5,000 citations for cannabis possession through 2017, according to a University of Rhode Island study. The study, conducted by journalism Professor Peter Phipps and students in his Media and Law course, analyzed police department data representing about 85 percent of the state’s population.
Each cannabis citation carries a minimum fine of $150.
“Before this survey by journalism students at URI, no one knew how police in Rhode Island were enforcing the 2013 marijuana possession law. The class found stark differences from community to community. Among the state’s largest cities, Warwick and Pawtucket aggressively wrote marijuana citations, while Providence and Woonsocket police were more laissez faire. In 2015, for example, Warwick wrote 10 times as many citations as Providence. Overall, the class found police write most citations at traffic stops and cite males six times